It’s a little sad it’s taken me this long to report this: I MADE TOP 8! Not only that, but I made top 4.
Yup, after the previous week’s best-night-of-magic-ever FNM, I decided to blow past my personal best and dominate.
It’s been a long week, but as I sit here sipping my margarita after day six of work in row, it’s easy to remember the giddy emotions of last Friday. The tension, the adrenaline, the hopes and most of all: the winning!
It was a rare night of only five rounds at my LGS, and at the end of those rounds I was 4-1. It felt great! There were several high pressure match ups, and the only person I lost to ended up in the top 4 as well.
I’d practiced drafting a couple times throughout the week again, so I think that is really helping. Also, my confidence in my ability to draft this set is just getting stronger and strong and confidence is key.
My draft pod was interesting. We opened A TON of good cards among the eight of us. I picked a Trostani’s Summoner first pick and a Zhur-Taa Druid as my second pick, pretty much thinking along the same lines as last week: I can splash my bomb and still draft my favorite Gatecrash guild.
The plan went splendidly. I got a ton of strong playable creatures in both pack 1 and pack 2. I got some strong removal as well. My deck was turning out to be very similar to the previous week. I didn’t have double MadCap Skills, but I had an Armed//Dangerous, two Disciple of the Old Ways, an Experiment One, a Kraul Warrior, a Rubblebelt Maaka and a Weapon Surge. So I was pretty happy going into pack 3. I’d passed some solid black cards, but picked up a few white cards since I had the Summoner.
Then I opened Rakdos’s Return. Even though it was black, I knew it was the right pick. I’m not actually that familiar with the RTR cards, so I didn’t even know this mythic rare existed, but reading it I knew it could be a HUGE game changer. Pay X and have your opponent lose X life and discard X cards? Yes please. And pack 3 didn’t stop being amazing there: I got a Frostburn Weird, a Splatter Thug, an Annihilating Fire, an Explosive Impact, and an Axebane Guardian.
I didn’t end up playing my Summoner, deciding to splash black for the better bomb. I had the Axebane guardian and two swamps as my black sources. I had a couple guildgates and a cluestone as well, so my mana base was really solid. I was fairly confident going into my first match, even after I saw that it was against one of the best players at my LGS. I’d never played him before, but he Top 8s regularly and has been playing forever.
But that didn’t matter. I crushed him 2-0.
The first game, I curved out really well with my Experiment One, then my Disciple and then my Splatter Thug. I went the super aggressive route. I played my Axebane guardian, which he immediately killed… but I didn’t have Rakdos’s Return in hand anyway. And he just couldn’t handle my super agressive attacks. It was over in five turns, and I was still at 16 life at the end.
Game two was only slightly closer. I had a good start, and he had a better start than the first game, but my super aggressive deck was working to my advantage again. I played out my Axebane Guardian, and he didn’t kill it immediately, which was nice because I did have Rakdos’s Return in hand. I held on to it until I got really hurt him. I ended up playing it with my Axebane guardian and his face was priceless when I tapped it and said “black”. I hadn’t played a single swamp in either game so he had absolutely no idea I had a card like that. I hit him for 6 and he had to discard his entire hand. He was at two life after that, and he didn’t top deck anything really useful. I attacked with all my creatures on my turn, and he blocked two of them and let my Druid go through, so I played Weapon Surge for lethal. It was awesome.
My second match took a long time because he was playing five colors with several extort creatures… and Vraska. Somehow I managed to win even when he got her out game one. I think it was because I had my Druid on board, so he never wanted to leave her at one… and I was playing a creature heavy deck so I didn’t really care when she killed one of my guys. So I pretty much ignored her and just tried to get through to him whenever possible. It eventually worked. Game two went faster. He didn’t get out as many extort creatures and I had my Druid out, so it evened out and my aggressive deck ended up winning.
Match three was my loss. I won one game with Armed//Dangerous, but lost the other two to Voice of Resurgence.
My other matches were pretty fun. I played Match 4 against K, which was hard. She gave me a run for my money with all her life gain and extort. I got paired down for Match 5, which meant I had to play it out for the top 8. No intentional draws for me! That was a high stress match because I knew I had to win to achieve my goal. The first game was super aggressive: I killed him in three turns. The second game was a bit closer. I got him down to 15, and was planning on ending it with a brutal Weapon Surge and Armed// Dangerous combo the next turn, but I played an extra creature first just to be sure. It was a good thing I did, too — he played a ridiculous counter spell that also gave him five life. So he was back at 20 and I was at 12. Awesome. I attacked with all my creatures one time, and he let them through, getting him down to 14 (I had a 4/4 out and a 2/2 and a Druid). I also tapped my Druid for mana, pinging him for 1. I could still go through with my plan on the next turn, so I wasn’t that worried… even when he played Trostani’s Summoner on his end. I attacked with everything, fused Armed// Dangerous and then cast Weapon Surge on my 4/4. That made it a 6/6 with double strike, so it hit him for 12 and my 2/2 got through as well, ending the game.
I was stoked. I ended the normal 5 rounds in second place! One person wanted to play it out though, so I ended up having to play two more matches. And if I lost my first top 8 match, I’d walk away with only three packs, despite a top 8 finish. I was determined to get more packs than that — I finished SECOND for goodness sakes. But man, I was tired. (Even writing this, I feel tired!)
The first top 8 match went into game 3, and I almost lost it. I played Rakdos’s Return a bit too early, and lost my blockers, so he was able to hit me for six twice in a row. I had Armed// Dangerous and Weapon Surge in my hand, but no creature on board. I was almost ready to give up… but then I top decked Traitorous Instinct, which was perfect. He had attacked with all his creatures to ge me to 1 life. All of them were two power creatures, so I stole one and the Instinct gave it +2/+0 and then I cast just Armed, giving it another +1/+1 and double strike. He was at 6, so luckily, it was lethal.
The next match was over quite quickly. I was playing an even more aggressive deck. I think I had him in game 2, and probably should have called a judge over, but it was late and I was happy with getting five packs. I should have called a judge because when I cast Rakdos’s Return for four, he discarded his whole hand (four cards). His friend watching asked “why’d you do that??” and he said because the card says so. But then he paused, and realized he could respond by playing his Boros Charm and hitting me for four, which made his next attack lethal. If I’d called a judge, I would have said he got outside coaching. But at the end of the night, I was still incredibly proud of myself.
It was really cool having two of my best FNMs back to back. Maybe tomorrow night I’ll get first!!
It’s actually not outside the realm of possibility because of how many people at my LGS who will be gone. They’re all going to GP Vegas, and I’m pretty jealous. I’m not jealous of the people road-tripping out there… It’s a 20+ hour drive for us. But I am jealous that they’ll be able to be part of the largest MTG tournament ever. And maybe even the biggest Trading Card Tournament ever.
If I didn’t have a day job, I probably would have gone. Not that I even know how to draft Modern Masters… but it still would have been fun.
So to all you guys out there at GP Vegas: Good Luck!! But the guys from my LGS will kick your butts 😉
All for now,